Mountain Goat Trail Alliance Receives $450,000 Project Diabetes Grant

The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance (MGTA) has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the State of Tennessee’s Project Diabetes program for construction of the trail and support of health initiatives in Grundy County.

“The Project Diabetes grant we received in 2016 was instrumental in helping us build a trail in Tracy City and begin collaborating with the Grundy County Health Council on programs for people of all ages to promote healthy behavior, including using the Mountain Goat Trail for regular exercise. With this new grant, we’ll be able to continue those efforts,” said Patrick Dean, executive director of the MGTA.
The grant will facilitate construction of the Mountain Goat Trail between DuBose Conference Center and Ingman Farm Road. In addition, the grant provides funding to be used to support programs sponsored by the Grundy County Health Council, including elementary school run clubs, adult walking contests, and creation of exercise/nutrition signage on the Trail. Funds from the grant will also go to the Old Roundhouse Park in downtown Tracy City.
Project Diabetes is a statewide initiative that funds, through the competitive bid process, innovative primary prevention projects to halt the increasing rate of obesity in Tennessee. The fundamental goals of Project Diabetes are to:
Decrease the prevalence of overweight/obesity across the State and, in turn, prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and/or the consequences of this devastating disease;
Educate the public about current and emerging health issues linked to obesity;
Promote community, public-private partnerships to identify and solve regional health problems related to obesity;
Advise and recommend policies and programs that support individual and community health improvement efforts;
Evaluate effectiveness of improvement efforts that address overweight and obesity;
Disseminate best practices for obesity prevention and health improvement.

Learn more about the Mountain Goat Trail at <>.

SUD Receives Favorable Audit; Closes Waterline Project

by Leslie Lytle
Messenger Staff Writer
At the May 28 meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners, the board reviewed the 2018 audit and received an update on the completion of the waterline replacement project. The board also voted to hire a summer intern.
The audit performed by the MG Group showed SUD had $102,000 positive change in its net position.
“That’s better than I anticipated,” said SUD manager Ben Beavers. SUD drew on its cash reserves for the recently completed waterline replacement project, rather than borrowing money. Failure to maintain a positive net position can result in the state comptroller requiring a utility to raise rates or otherwise adjust practices.
For the first time since 2013, SUD did not receive a citation for “inadequate segregation of duties,” an audit finding frequently received by small utilities who lack the staff to provide the required degree of financial oversight and lack the resources to hire additional full-time staff. SUD resolved the issue by hiring an accountant to perform a once a month review of financial transactions.
The only audit criticism was “failure to deposit receipts in three days.” SUD received the same finding in the 2017 audit and changed practices to correct the circumstance in May of 2018. The finding referenced instances before the May 2018 changes were made. “It won’t happen again,” Beavers said.
Updating the board on the recently completed replacement of aging, constricted cast iron waterlines on Florida Avenue, South and North Carolina Avenues, and Clara’s Point Road, Beavers said all the permits had been closed out and financial arrangements with the contractor were being finalized.
The project came in $71,000 under budget because of cost-saving changes to the original plan and SUD performing inspections and some ancillary work in house.
The intern SUD hires will complete a GPS inventory of fire hydrants, check for leaks, flush hydrants, measure flow, compile a list of worn parts and repairs needed, and weed eat and clear brush in the area of the hydrants.
“It will be useful to have a data base so we can prioritize repairs,” said SUD Board President Charlie Smith.
The intern will receive no benefits and earn hourly compensation slightly above minimum wage.
“It would be good to hire at least one intern a year to get people interested in the business,” Beavers said. “In 10 years we’ll be needing people to replace those who retire.”
Beavers recommended looking for interns among children of employees first and then the customer base. To comply with federal law, any young person employed by SUD would need to be at least 16 years old. SUD has already identified a person for the intern position for this year.
The part-time position will continue until the job is completed, probably six weeks. Funds for hiring an intern are available from the contract labor budget.

The board will hold a special called meeting June 18, 6 p.m., to review the manager’s compensation. The board will use salary and compensation survey data from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts for guidance.

​Monteagle Approves Fire Hall, Budget, Zoning Map

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the May 20 meeting the Monteagle City Council approved a bid for construction of a new fire hall, the 2019-20 budget, and an updated zoning map. The council also discussed the need for upgrades at the city dump.
The fire department has operated from a rented facility for more than a year following demolition of the old fire hall. The new fire hall will be constructed at the site of the former fire hall on East Main Street. The council reviewed a design plan in November, but the cost was prohibitive and a downsized version of the plan was considered. The council bid the project three times. The $365,200 bid was awarded to American Engineering Solutions (AES), the only bidder.
The new fire hall will largely conform to the original design. AES built the Whitwell fire hall. AES offers design engineering services as well as construction, resulting in cost savings City Recorder Debbie Taylor explained.
The 2019-20 budget approved on first reading reflects some cost increases, but otherwise differs only slightly from the current budget. Following the second reading, the budget will be posted on the Monteagle website.
Similarly, the updated zoning map approved on first reading differs only slightly from the former map. One change is an additional category, R4 Residential. “R4 is just a modified R3 residential,” explained Planning Commission Chair Carter Underhill. R4 allows for a smaller dwelling size.
Underhill introduced a discussion about the need for upgrades at the dump—more dumpsters, recycling bins, fencing, and concrete work. Taylor said Grundy County provided the dumpsters, Marion County provided the trash compactor, and Monteagle provided the employees.
The 30-acre site had harvestable timber, Underhill noted. He suggested a selective timber harvest to raise the money to pay for the upgrade.
The council tabled a request from the fire department for three sets of turnout gear, cost $9,036.
“We have people dressed out in gear I wouldn’t want to go in a house in,” said fire department Captain Matt Underhill.
Taylor will check to see if budgeted funds are available to cover the expense.
Police Chief Virgil McNeese asked if the Wi-Fi service at the May Justus Memorial Library could be turned off at night. McNeese said non-residents came to the parking lot and used the service at night, often leaving trash.
“It’s a state law if a business is closed and you’re on the property that’s criminal trespassing,” McNeese pointed out. He said the police had been asking the night visitors to leave, but having the Wi-Fi turned off would make their job easier.
Addressing a question about landscaping at city hall, Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam said city employees at a substantial savings were doing the work “in house.” Hiring out the project would cost $35,000 according to Gilliam. The rosebushes suffered from blight and were removed, Gilliam explained. They will be replaced with pines, a plant species more suitable for the soil and ambient conditions of the location.

​Arrests Made in Guerry Vandalism Case

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
On May 9, the Sewanee Police Department arrested two University students—a 21-year-old woman and 20-year-old male—for the recent vandalism and malicious destruction at Guerry Auditorium. The pair, a senior and junior respectively, confessed to the crime. They were charged with class C felony vandalism valued at $10,000 to $60,000 and class D felony burglary. Both are free after posting $7,500 bonds.
An individual arriving at Guerry Auditorium mid-morning on April 28 to setup for a rehearsal discovered the doors unlocked, chairs tossed in the aisles, an exit light ripped from the wall, the American flag torn down and the pole broken, spray paint disfiguring the speakers and walls, and an abundance of powder residue from the discharge of fire extinguishers.
An individual with an office in Guerry Hall said all was well when he left the building at 10:30 the night before. A size 12 and half-foot print in the powder residue offered one small clue.
“We always look for motive,” said Sewanee Police Chief Marie Ferguson, “but no motive was apparent.”
Nor did the police receive any help from the leads attained in response to the $10,000 reward offered by the University. “The information didn’t pan out,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson attributed “innovative thinking” and teamwork on the part of the officers and investigators in solving the crime. Investigator Jody Bray recently underwent special training which proved “very helpful,” according to Ferguson. She declined to reveal the methods used to avoid jeopardizing future investigations.
Likewise, Ferguson declined to comment on whether drugs and/or alcohol played a role.
Emily Catherine Culp and Connor Peach will stand trial in Franklin County. A court date has been scheduled for July 11 in the Franklin County General Sessions Court.
Twelfth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Steve Blount said Culp and Peach would be tried as range one standard offenders, individuals with zero to one prior conviction. For individuals in that range, class C felony vandalism carries a prison sentence of three to six years and a fine up to $10,000. The sentence for class D felony burglary is two to four years and a fine up to $5,000.
However, Blount noted, “We have crimes on the books you can’t get probation for. This is a probatable crime.”
Blount also pointed out, “The University is continuing to assess the actual dollar amount of the damage. Depending on the final assessment, there could be a modification or amendment of the charges.”
As to Culp and Peach’s academic standing at the University, University spokesperson Laurie Saxton said, “The University’s internal disciplinary process is still underway. We do not comment while these are ongoing.”
The good news is Sewanee Summer Music Festival events scheduled for Guerry Auditorium will go on as planned, according to Saxton. All repairs will be completed before the festival begins.

​Sewanee Loses Pre-K; County Schools’ Budget “Sobering”

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“In the hour and a half before this meeting I received a dozen emails, four phone calls and four texts,” said Franklin County School Board Representative Adam Tucker. His constituents were concerned about Sewanee Elementary School losing Pre-K funding. The state level announcement went public before the May 13 meeting of the school board.
“We lost a Pre-K program last year due to the same issue,” said Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster. “We lost the funding because such a low percentage of students are income eligible.”
The Sewanee Pre-K program received 18 applications, but only 12 from within Franklin County. Of those 12, only two are from income eligible families, families whose incomes fall below the state designated threshold.
State funding hinges on 90 percent of the students being income eligible, said County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham.
“Last year we had to put $100,000 into the program just to exist,” Foster said.
“It used to be the state funding provided for furniture, curriculum, and supplies,” said board member Sara Liechty, “but not anymore.”
Updating the board on revisions to the proposed 2019-20 budget, Foster noted the draw on the reserve fund balance would increase by more $300,000, leaving only $2,166,917 in the reserve account. The county school will end the 2018-19 year with a fund balance of $4,622,506, but the proposed budget would require spending more than half the amount.
“That’s very sobering,” Foster said.
The budget revisions included 2 percent raises for support employees and 1.5 percent for bus drivers. Certified employees will not receive salary increases, only step increases based on years of service. By the revised salary schedule, teachers employed one to five years will receive a 1 percent increase. From six to 25 years, teachers will receive salary increases ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent, with the salary increasing as years of service increase.
The county still has not received information on the increase in funding promised by Governor Bill Lee, Foster said. The Franklin County Commission wants the schools’ budget by June 1.
“I don’t think we can make a decision now,” said Board Chair Cleijo Walker.
Turning to complaints of reckless driving directed against a school bus driver, the board voted to terminate the driver’s contract.
Franklin County Schools Transportation Supervisor Mark Montoye received six calls about the driver. As the result of a Chattanooga school bus accident caused by reckless driving, beginning in 2017 state law required school bus bumpers’ to display the phone number of the school system’s transportation director, Montoye explained. Two of the calls came in after the driver was issued a warning. The two recent calls were for running a red light and pulling out in front of another vehicle.
A substitute driver using a county bus will cover the route of the terminated driver until a new driver is hired.
At the close of the meeting, Tucker announced the June 6 school board meeting would be his last meeting as a school board member. Tucker serves as city attorney for Murfreesboro and his new contract requires he move his primary residence to Rutherford County.
“It is with a heavy heart I make this decision,” Tucker said.
A replacement will be appointed to finish out Tucker’s term.

​Weekend of Closing Festivities, SAS Class of 2019 Graduates May 19

The student body of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School will celebrate the 2018-19 academic year and its 37 graduating seniors during weekend festivities May 17-19.

The weekend begins with the Baccalaureate Service on Friday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the school’s Outdoor Altar. This year’s Baccalaureate speakers will be longtime and beloved SAS Spanish teachers Steve and Claudia Rinck who will retire this year. The Baccalaureate Service is followed by a banquet for seniors, their families, and guests in Robinson Dining Hall. The final event of the evening is the senior Lead Out & Annie Presentations in McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts. The Annies, an SAS tradition, is an opportunity for each senior to be honored with an original poem written by a faculty member in celebration of that senior. Events will end on Friday night at approximately 9 p.m.
On Saturday, May 18 at 10 a.m. the school community will gather under the tent at the Outdoor Altar for Honors Day, a celebration of student achievements throughout the year and major awards recognizing outstanding leadership, service, and scholarship. Retiring and departing faculty members will also be honored during the ceremony. Honors Day lasts about an hour. Following the program guests are invited to a reception in Simmonds Hall. Student artwork will be on display in the SAS Gallery throughout the weekend.
The weekend, and school year, concludes on Sunday, May 19 with Commencement Eucharist and Commencement Exercises which begin at 10 a.m. under the tent at the Outdoor Altar. The graduation ceremony lasts about one and a half hours. Each senior will be awarded a diploma and receive a parting blessing. Following Commencement Exercises, there will be a reception in the Spencer Room in Langford Hall.

​University Chaplain Tom Macfie to Step Down Next Year

The Rev. Thomas E. Macfie Jr., University of the South chaplain and dean of All Saints’ Chapel, will complete his work as chaplain at the end of the next academic year (June, 2020). Macfie was appointed chaplain in 2006 and dean of the Chapel in 2010.

“The Episcopal Church and the University of the South have been the defining institutions of my life,” said Macfie. “I mark these years as chaplain and dean of All Saints’ Chapel as the pinnacle of my service as a priest of our church.”
Professor of Geology Bran Potter and current Regent the Rev. Patty Rhyne, T’06, will co-chair a search advisory committee to assist Vice-Chancellor John McCardell with the task of finding a successor. The Ordinances of the University state that upon the nomination of the vice-chancellor, the Trustees elect the chaplain. Over the next several weeks, McCardell will assemble a committee to work under Potter’s and Rhyne’s guidance to advise on this duty.
“Tom has served the Episcopal Church and the University of the South in invaluable ways, and his devotion to our students and the entire community has been unmatched,” said McCardell. “His care and his counsel will be greatly missed.”
Macfie has been a member of the Sewanee community for almost all of the last 43 years. He holds B.A. (1980) and M.Div. (1989) degrees from the University of the South. He served in the University’s Office of Admission from 1984 to 1986, and as rector of Otey Parish from 1997 to 2006. In addition to his work during the academic year, he has performed summer work in South Africa (1985) and Uganda (2014).
As for what the future holds, “Pamela and I have some exciting endeavors in Maine that I can best pursue by spending more time on that coast,” Macfie says. “I also have a writing project that explores the connection between friendship and nature as gifts of God.”

​Community Project to Preserve Sewanee’s Black History

This summer the Sewanee Black History Initiative is inviting all persons with roots in Sewanee’s black neighborhoods to participate in our community’s first-ever digitization fairs, which will be devoted to recovering, recording, and preserving the history of African-Americans on the Mountain. The fairs will be held on Memorial Day (Monday, May 27) and Friday, July 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, at the St. Mark’s Community Center on Alabama Avenue in Sewanee.
Digitization fairs offer several ways to preserve the historical record in digital form. We invite all persons with roots in Sewanee’s black community to bring with them their memories, stories, and personal keepsakes—photographs, scrapbooks, postcards and letters, family Bibles, school records and yearbooks, trophies and diplomas—anything that reflects life in Sewanee in years past.
A team of present and former residents, university students, and staff will use scanners and cameras to make digital copies of their collections. Participants will not lose possession of their personal keepsakes. In fact, they get to keep their original materials and receive a free digital copy of them on a USB drive, which will be theirs to share with anyone they wish.
There will also be an oral history booth where participants can share their Sewanee stories about their grandparents, parents, siblings, and others and preserve those stories for generations to come. The Initiative team members will lead walks through the St. Mark’s neighborhood and lunch will be served to all participants.
Finally, participants also can ensure that future generations will remember Sewanee’s African-American history by donating a digital copy of their historic memorabilia to a new community digital archive dedicated to collecting, preserving, and honoring the history of the African-Americans who helped to make Sewanee a thriving and prosperous community.
For many generations the black residents of the Mountain were centrally important members of this community. They worked in the buildings of the University of the South and its academy, cooked meals for its students, and kept the homes and children of the town’s white residents. African-Americans built strong, family-centered neighborhoods and supported their own church and school. The African-American population in Sewanee once numbered in the hundreds. Sewanee—the university and the town—thrived because of their contributions. But today, as older residents have passed and younger generations have left for opportunities elsewhere, many fewer African-Americans live on the Mountain. The school, church, and many of their homes have been bulldozed. As a result, the record and memory of their lives and experiences and of how they helped shape the University and the community surrounding it are in danger of disappearing.
The members of the group organizing the events are: Shirley Taylor (Sewanee), James “Jimmy” Staten (Belvidere), Carl Hill (McMinnville), Sandra Davis Turner (Sewanee), Elmore Torbert, Jr. (Tullahoma), Jackie Duncan (Tullahoma), Doug Cameron (Sewanee), Tanner Potts (Sewanee), Robert Lamborn (Sewanee), Hannah Pommersheim (Sewanee), Nicky Hamilton (Sewanee), Sarah Sherwood (Sewanee), and Woody Register (Sewanee).
The Sewanee Black History events are sponsored by the Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, a program launched by the University of the South to study and make known its historic entanglements with slavery and slavery’s legacies. The digitization fairs are made possible by a Common Heritage grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support comes from the university’s Gerald Smith Experiential Learning Fund and the McCrickard Faculty Development Fund.

For more information, a Facebook page describes the activities Community members can reach the Initiative by email or by phone (931) 598-1085.

​Budget, Inadequate Policy Dilemmas Confront School Board

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the May 6 working session, the Franklin County School Board discussed concerns raised by the proposed 2019-20 budget. The board also took up a dilemma caused by students requesting to attend kindergarten at a school out of their zone and assessed possible liability issues resulting when parents drove students to school events. Neither of these circumstances is covered by school policy.
The budget includes no raises whatsoever, only degree advancement and step salary increases for certified employees based on years of service. At the end of the current school year, $4,622,506 will remain in the fund balance reserve, but under the proposed budget the fund balance will drop to $2,482,803 at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
“At the beginning of the year Governor Bill Lee promised a two and half percent increase in Basic Education Program (BEP) funding, but we haven’t heard anything else,” said Director of Schools Stanley Bean.
County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham said the schools wouldn’t receive any additional property tax revenue because the county hasn’t experienced any growth.
Complicating matters further, the school system is mandated by law under BEP requirements to devote $295,000 in “new money” for instructional salaries, according to Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster. The step increases approved by the board in February allocate $154,000 in new money for salary increases. The budget includes this amount. The budget does not include the remaining $140,000 necessary to meet the $295,000 target.
Foster proposed several possible scenarios for allocating the remaining $140,000: a 1 percent increase for all instructional employees, a 2 percent increase for all instructional employees, a graduated increase beginning at six years of service, and a graduated increasing beginning at 11 years of service.
“We compare well to other systems in the state for starting teachers,” Foster said, “but we don’t fare well as teachers’ years of service increase.” As a result, Franklin County teachers’ salaries are $1,300 below the state average.
The board favored the graduated increase beginning at the sixth year of service. The cost of the increase, $166,000, would just slightly exceed the $140,000 necessary to meet the BEP requirement. Since it was a work session meeting, no vote was taken.
The board doesn’t expect to receive information about the increase in BEP funding from the state until after the regular board meeting May 13. Bean said a special called meeting would probably be needed to approve the budget.
Taking up the dilemma proposed by students wanting to attend kindergarten at a school different from their zoned school, Bean asked for the board’s advice.
Bean has received a number of requests which, if granted, would require an additional teacher at Sewanee and one less teacher at Clark Memorial.
“In the past if it did not affect the number of teachers, we’ve honored the request,” said Board Chair CleiJo Walker.
Bean said in some cases refusing the request would create a hardship. He cited as “legitimate” out-of-zone requests by students who had a sibling at the school or a parent who worked there. He viewed less favorably requests based on not liking the teachers at the in-zone school.
“It’s at your discretion since there’s no policy,” said Vice-Chair Lance Williams.
Bean also called the board’s attention to possible liability from parents driving students to school events, citing the upcoming cheerleading camp in Florida.
“I have concerns about the cars,” Bean said, “but we don’t have anything in terms of policy that says, ‘no.’ If there’s an accident, we’ll get sued.”
The only limitation on the practice, according to Bean, is the schools’ insurance policy, which requires parents transporting students to carry high liability insurance. But Bean stressed, “If it’s a school sanctioned event, we’re liable regardless, whether the students travel by school bus, a rented van, or parents’ cars.”

​New Bookstore Highlights

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the May 7 Sewanee Village update meeting Sarah Boykin presented an overview of the features of the new bookstore soon to be constructed on the lot between Tower Bank and the post office. As University Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, Boykin has shepherded the project from the beginning.
Discussion on design began over a year ago. The gable structure building has a spacious front porch with a wheelchair accessible ramp. Just inside the front door a transaction counter will offer light refreshments like coffee and pastry. The event area just beyond will accommodate book signings and comfortable lounging in a living room like space. Floor to ceiling bookshelves will line the wall on the Tower Bank side. The bookstore will also include a children’s area.
Although Barnes and Noble will operated the facility, Boykin stressed, “This will be a small town bookstore about books, a place for readers and writers.” While only two-thirds the size of the former bookstore, the 6,500 square foot facility will actually feature more shelving than the old bookstore where much of the space was underutilized.
The second floor will offer souvenir type items and textbook pickup for students, with only a small inventory of textbooks maintained onsite. Technology has streamlined the textbook ordering process, Boykin explained, with students books ordered automatically when they registered for a class.
Nine parking spaces on the post office side will serve the facility, as well a three spaces in front and bike racks.
Asked if the parking was adequate, Boykin said, “We can change the culture of driving and encourage and create a walkable community.” She pointed out the ample parking at the former bookstore was largely used for events, not by bookstore patrons.
Boykin said the trend on college campuses was to locate the bookstore in the downtown area. “It will be interesting to see how it engages the community.” Boykin predicted the bookstore would open by the end of the year.
Turning to other Sewanee Village news, Frank Gladu who oversees the project said the recent Tiger Tuesday fundraiser brought in $25,000. The resources are earmarked for the beautification of downtown, including amenities like chairs, landscaping, and lights. Commenting on the “cross-section of involvement” the fundraiser spurred, including quite a few student donors, Gladu said, “With the bookstore moving downtown, students have a more vested interest in the downtown area.” The Sewanee Village advisory group includes a student representative.
Offering updates on the priority projects, Gladu said construction on the mixed-use food market and apartment building would begin when the developer had leased 60 percent of the apartment space and 60 percent of the retail space. The largest component of lower level of the 7,000 square foot building will be a food market with 12 apartments planned for the second floor, six studio apartments and six one bedroom apartments. The design also calls for an elevator serving the second level.
Asked about possible relocation of the Hair Depot located on the lot proposed for the mixed-use structure, Gladu said, “The Hair Depot is a vital activity area for the village. We want to retain their business and are working with the owner to identify a space for them.”
In the arena of single-family housing, Gladu said Requests for Proposals for dwellings less than 2,000 square feet were under review. The Village Plan also calls for multi-family dwellings like duplexes and townhouses.
An ongoing concern regarding the Village Project has been how to deal with storm water. Providing an overview of the recently completed storm water study, Gladu said the recommendations for mediating storm water called for an “above ground approach where most of the features will be visible” rather than piping the water underground. The study can be viewed at the Sewanee Village website under the pull-down menu heading “Resources.”

​Wilson to Lead Spiritual Learning Workshop

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
A new workshop at St. Mary’s Sewanee will focus on providing participants with the language to talk about spiritual learning.
This Spiritual Learning Workshop will begin at 5 p.m., Sunday, June 9, and will run until 2 p.m., Tuesday, June 11. The workshop was borne from the work of Larry Todd Wilson, owner and founder of Knowledge Harvesting. Wilson has worked for more than 25 years drawing out information and insight from experts in their fields. Wilson will lead the workshop alongside Leslee Anne Terpay, who has extensive experience in spiritual direction and centering prayer.
Wilson said the catalyst for the beginning of his work was a personal need.
“After I finished an undergraduate degree, I was wondering what would happen with my career. I had a realization that if I learn everything I could learn about learning, I would not have to be concerned about jobs. It originated as a personal need, and then that became a research topic, which then became a product and a service,” he said.
Now, this is used as a tool for spiritual learning around the country. Alongside the pilot workshop in Sewanee, spiritual leaders have collaborated with Wilson, using his work and presenting it in their own ways around the country to further the reach of spiritual learning.
Spiritual learning is a set of learnable skills aimed at making meaning of individual and collective spiritual transformation. During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn how to have conversations that illuminate personal stories and the stories of others in the context of relationship and prayer.
In concert with spiritual leaders and his own mentors, Wilson developed the workshop to offer an opportunity to explore spiritual transformation in community.
“The main thing that an experience like this provides, especially at a place like St. Mary’s, is a freedom and a sense of space to explore your story. When you invite someone to respond to a question, and you genuinely listen and honor what you’re hearing, that becomes a real gift,” Wilson said. “The workshop takes a topic that we may be curious about such as ‘how does my growth occur.’ Like any skill, you never get it in a few hours. If it is something you want to deepen, you need a chance to practice and deepen your own skills. What I’ve learned by sitting and engaging my elders and people I respect is learning experience is also all about relationships.”
Participants will experiment with proven techniques for evoking spiritual insights. They will increase awareness of spiritual growth, especially as a form of celebration to deepen joy, hope and trust. There will be small group participation with plenty of support and feedback. They will consider options to carry spiritual learning back home, build it into their own life in ways that expand and enrich, and share within the community.
To develop the workshop, Wilson said the process and his own ways of thinking about spiritual learning benefited greatly from the perspectives of others, specifically from Regan Schutz, director of programming at St. Mary’s Sewanee.
“Regan really shaped how this workshop has emerged. Because she is clergy and on staff and is familiar with how the seminary views formation, she is excited about the potential,” Wilson said. “It’s rewarding because I see how this moves things along and makes them more authentic. My hunch is that she will be instrumental in helping us figure out next steps.”
Schutz will be leading a conversation on next steps to give the workshop attendees an idea of how to apply what they learn when they leave.
“Anyone in ministry needs to know how to help hold up the mirror and help guide people to their deeper truths. People are inherently spiritual and inherently belong in community. We think we know ourselves, but we don’t, and this is why religion and spirituality takes community,” she said.

For more information go to The deadline to register is June 2.

​Sewanee Arts and Crafts Association Spring Fair

The Sewanee Arts and Crafts Association’s (SACA) Spring Fair will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at Shoup Park on University Avenue in Sewanee. This event is free and open to the public. Exhibitors will include:
Sandra Arnold, jewelry; Tracie Boswell, copper jewelry; Coyote Cove, aromatherapy soaps; Linda and Matt Barry, plants; Susan Church, wood boxes; Louis and Christine Colombarini, ceramics; Susan Cordell, pottery; Ronnie Crabtree, wind chimes; Phyllis Dix, hand painted items; Full Circle Candles, candles;
Sandy Gilliam, photography; Burki Gladstone, clay; Mary Beth Green, encaustic boxes; Marcu Hilden, ironwork; Connie Hornsby, fiber art; Dennis Jones, jewelry; Jasper King, wooden bowls; Bill Knight, wooden toys; Elizabeth Long, silver jewelry; Bill Mauzy, turned wooden bowls; Randy McCurdy, pressed flowers;
Mary and Mike McElwain, silverware jewelry; Christi Ormsby, clayware; Susan and Art Parry, glass jewelry and bowls; Danny Phifer, etchings; Amy Rae, handmade soaps; Claire Reishman, pottery; Luise Richards, sewing; Darlene Seagroves, handmade items; Jeanie Stephenson, bronze; Merissa Tobler, pottery;
Carol and Glenn Vandenbosch, mosaic; Ron Van Dyke, yard art; Polly Wells, clay miniatures; Anna Whitworth, hand thrown pottery; Will Winton, prints; Laurel York, block printing/baskets.

​HSI Home Almost Completed at Sherwood Springs

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Nestled back a ways from the main road up the Mountain, Mickey Suarez, Michael Coffey and Peter Hunter hammer away on a smart, 750-square-foot home at 1835 Sherwood Rd.

The home is the first of a group of seven sites that are planned for Sherwood Springs area.

The project is being led by Housing Sewanee, Inc., (HSI) which was founded in 1993 and modeled after Habitat for Humanity. Since its creation, the organization has built 17 houses, all with no-interest loans and financial counseling for locals who are in the market for an affordable path to home ownership.

The total cost for the home has been estimated at $70,000, taking into account that a significant number of the materials used in the build were donated and that labor was all volunteer.

Construction on the home began about two years ago. Now, just a few months away from the home being complete, the organization is taking applications for potential occupants.

“We found this piece of land about three years ago, and it’s a little more than six acres. One of the key parts of the property is that it has a natural spring,” said Dixon Myers, co-founder of Housing Sewanee.

A key component of the home is its energy efficiency, which is made possible by the top-grade insulation, the scrap building materials that were donated from various community members, the solar collection system, and the geothermal electric system.

Michael Coffey, visiting professor of physics at the University, spearheaded the geothermal system and plumbing. Coffey said the main idea behind the geothermal system is to keep the cost of utilities low.

“We have 1,200 feet in 3-foot coils lying on top of each other, buried 5-feet underground. The main unit is a heat pump. What a heat pump does , if it’s used in a house setting, is exchanges heat from the outside air with the inside air. If it needs to cool, then it dumps heat into the outside from the inside. It works like an air conditioner, a series of compressions and expansions with some kind of cryogenic fluid,” he said. “Without electricity or gas, there is no energy expended on heating or cooling the air, so it’s a much lower utility bill with this system.”

Mickey Suarez, Housing Sewanee design and construction manager, said the utilities are something he and the others at the organization will be monitoring.

“We are going to start construction next door on our garage that is going to be used as a training center. We will be monitoring the utility use on a 24-hour basis. We’ll have a good handle going forward, and will be able to compare that with other designs. Each house will vary in size and footprint, and it will vary in some of the amenities to try to save energy,” he said.

For all that are involved, the energy-efficiency and low cost are worthwhile, but the goal of the project comes down to one thing—pouring into the Sewanee community.

“You give someone a place to live, the opportunity to fulfill a dream of owning a home, it can really change their whole outlook,” Coffey said.

The application process for the home is open until mid-May. For more information or to apply, visit <>.

​Monteagle: Police Save Life, Jobs, Pit Bulls

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“I have no doubt in my mind the officers saved the woman’s life,” said Monteagle Police Chief Virgil McNeese recognizing officers Zach Fults and David Strieby at the April 29 Monteagle City Council meeting. On March 30, an unidentified motorist dropped off an unresponsive woman at the Monteagle 911 Center. Called to the scene, Fults and Strieby assessed the situation and administered nasal Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The woman’s breathing and heart rate immediately returned to normal.

“Law enforcement is a lot more than writing tickets and working wrecks,” said McNeese in commending the officers. “A lot of times you have two seconds to make a decision that will change someone’s life forever.”

During the business portion of the meeting, the council issued a business permit to Dollar Tree, reviewed a request from a resident who had no access to his property, considered banning pit bull dogs in the city limits, and passed a resolution that will accommodate extending a section of the Mountain Goat Trail.

Dollar Tree will be located at the site currently occupied by Family Dollar, which will close on May 5. Dollar Tree plans to hire 30 part-time employees. The grand opening is scheduled for May 30.

Mitchell Lawson who owns land on the back side of Laurel Lake with no road access asked the council to construct an access road in keeping with the provisions of the 1975 agreement, which deeded the city property to construct the lake. Lawson’s father sold Monteagle the land for one dollar. The agreement proposed an access road be constructed on the spillway.

“Federal law says you can’t land lock a piece of land,” Lawson insisted. Developers are interested in purchasing the property. Other access options include an easement for a road through the Black property or Clifftops development.

“The Black property sounds like the best bet,” said Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam. The council will consult with city attorney Harvey Cameron.

Reporting on Codes Enforcement, John Knost said North Bluff drive residents have complained about pit bull dogs chasing neighborhood cats and the UPS driver. Knost suggested the council consider an ordinance similar to that adopted by South Pittsburg to ban pit bull dogs in the city limits. In South Pittsburg those already owning the dogs were required to confine them behind a six foot fence.

“It could be any dog,” said alderwoman Jessica Blalock. “We don’t need to worry about pit bulls. We need to enforce the leash law.”

The leash law hasn’t been enforced, Gilliam conceded. “If we enforce the leash law, violators will go before the judge, and it’s out of our hands.”

Mountain Goat Trail Alliance board president Nate Wilson provided an overview of a plan to extend the trail from Clifftops to the interstate. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has federal grant money for a pedestrian walkway, Wilson said. Wilson and Tennessee Senator Janice Bowling persuaded TDOT to upgrade the proposed walkway from a five foot sidewalk to a ten foot to twelve foot pedestrian facility to be used as part of the trail. The MGTA will pay for reengineering the project. There would be no cost to Monteagle. Monteagle’s only commitment would be to facilitate tie-ins to existing infrastructure. Wilson doesn’t anticipate any tie-ins being needed.

The council approved a resolution allowing Mayor David Sampley to sign the paperwork needed for the project to move forward.

The council meets next on May 20, rather than on the regular meeting date of the last Monday of the month.

​Fine Arts at the Mountain Opened

by Sarah Beavers, Messenger Staff Writer

Michael and Netta Karr celebrated the grand opening of Fine Arts at the Mountain with an open house and ribbon cutting on April 27. Michael and Netta created Fine Arts as a creative safe space that “helps to develop the whole person,” said Michael.

Michael and Netta came to Sewanee a year and a half ago, fell in love with the Mountain, and decided to open up the store.

Fine Arts at the Mountain offers classes on a variety of musical instruments for students and professionals. They also offer repairs on instruments. “When you have a nice instrument, it draws you to it and makes you want to play,” said Michael. The music store offers musical instruments and accessories, a band instrument rental program, and a comprehensive music education program.

Michael was raised in a music store and was even part of a band. He began playing the violin at the age of nine, but the guitar is his instrument of choice. Music has had a profound influence on Michael. “Music is what life sounds like,” said Michael.

In 1993, Michael and his family moved from the West Coast to attend Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville. “God called Michael to ministry,” said Netta. He earned a bachelor of arts in church music. He then went on to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he got a masters of arts in worship.

Michael is ordained and has served for more than 20 years as a music minister and worship pastor. His church members wanted to become more active in the service by playing instruments. Parishioners wanting to learn how to play plus a growing interest within the community drove the need for access to high quality instruments at affordable prices.

In 2008, Michael and Netta opened their first store, called Fine Arts at the Beach, in Panama City, Fla. Both realized they were called to teaching. Michael and Netta’s coaching style is self-described as “it’s more than just teaching. It is going on the musical journey with them, where their inner creative part is expressed through music,” said Michael. “And, a music studio needs to be a place where you can be free to make discoveries,” said Michael.

Fine Arts at the Mountain is located at 91 University Ave. Store hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday. Call (931) 463-2400 for information or go to their website at to learn more about music instruction for individuals or groups, and the instruments.

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